Written by Bananaowns
Images courtesy of A-1 Pictures
I stand by the statement that there seems to be one standout show every season. The one show that everyone raves about. It’s a rarity in this world, but it happens like clockwork. Right now, ERASED is the prom queen of the anime world and it rightly deserves this title. Seriously, this show is one of my favorites of all time. I wholeheartedly recommend that everyone checks it out. If you want to hear more specifics, then continue to view this review. I’m Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth Anime Review.
ERASED tells the story of a 29 year old manga artist with a powerful, but mysterious ability. When tragedy is about to strike, Satoru is sent back several minutes before the accident occurs. Over the years, Satoru has used this ability to save the lives of many people. However, tragedy manages to personal and Satoru’s revival sends him back to his childhood. He realizes that this incident may be connected to a series of child murders that occurred while he was in elementary school and this is his chance to change the future.
The story follows Satoru as he tries to connect the pieces and figure out the identity of a serial killer. It plays like an anime version of the board game Clue. Various clues are presented and a variety of motives are questioned. The plot is an enthralling mystery as a result. Every episode sees an introduction of new evidence or even debunking of previous theories. The credit is largely due to the excellent pacing. Evidence is slowly dripped out as Satoru manages to connect the dots. Big reveals happen at times when they feel appropriate. Even the lighter scenes have an intended purpose and are not wasteful in any sense.
This is a show that is not meant to be watched in one sitting. A majority of the entertainment comes from speculating about the circumstances regarding the murders. To put this point into perspective, almost every episode ends in a cliffhanger, but one that is not superfluous. Each cliffhanger serves the purpose to immediately create a multitude of fan theories and anticipation to see if the viewer could correctly guess what would happen next. After viewing an episode, I immediately conversed with a friend and what followed was a whole week’s worth of theories and speculation. This is a show that is meant to be talked about.
ERASED features some of the best characterization in any anime, which is especially true for the female characters. The female characters are the most fleshed out female characters in anime. Satoru’s mother, Sachiko is a top tier anime mom. She is involved in her son’s life and possesses a level of self-awareness that is a rarity in anime. Sachiko is highly perceptive and readily observes anything out of the ordinary. Her interactions with another character, Kayo, showcase her aptitude as a mother perfectly. Sachiko is such a standout character that she quickly became one of my favorite characters by the end of the first episode.
Airi, a coworker of Satoru, is the other female character that I would categorize as phenomenal. She initially appears as an airhead, but this judgment is quickly brushed aside. Airi is spunky and willing to take action relatively quickly. She is surprisingly mature for her age and possesses a similar morality to that of Sachiko. Although she has relatively little screen time, Airi manages to make a solid impact on the viewer.
As for the main character, Satoru, he is interesting as well. He embodies a sort of helpful morality that causes him to go out of his way for others. It is sort of clichéd at first, but after his revival to his childhood becomes acceptable. At times, Satoru possesses a sort of ends justify the means mentality, shown by some potential actions as he tries to figure out how to change the future. Satoru is not perfect by any means, but embodies a very persistent attitude. At times his plans do fail, but never manages to lose out hope that he can alter the future for the better. Another interesting aspect is his adoption of many childlike tendencies when he revives to his elementary school days. Despite being an adult, these childlike tendencies seem to influence him. Overall, Satoru is a fascinating protagonist, but is not the main draw of the series. The focus is largely on the other characters and on Satoru’s attempt to figure out the mystery.
The animation of ERASED is a masterpiece of stylistic choices. The scenes that take place in the present are animated in a normal aspect ratio. However, the scenes in the past are given a cinematic look by the addition of black bars for these shots. At times it feels like an animated movie that has been split into normal episode lengths. The backgrounds and framing of certain scenes are the main driving force of the animation. Certain scenes possess a rather dark sense of beauty. Any scene involving Kayo in the park is framed to perfection. It would create a rather dreary wallpaper, but one that would be beautiful in its own sense. The character design could take some time to get used to, but I found that I was used to the look of the characters by the second episode. The animation for the characters is very well done, with a highlight being on the facial expressions of the characters. In this regard, Satoru’s expressions are done extremely well. Overall, the cinematic quality of the animation creates an animation style that is visually striking.
The voice acting of this series is highlight. Despite it being his first role, the voice actor for Satoru manages to give an absolutely astounding performance. Given his larger role in providing narration, this vocal performance needed to be great and thankfully, it is great. The rest of the vocal performances are similarly acted to perfection. As for the music of the series, it is appropriate for every situation. With the rather dark tone of a variety of scenes, the music is mostly moody. It reminds me of the jokes featured in Forgetting Sarah Marshall that are about a fictional television score. Given that the story is a mystery, this dark music provides the necessary ambience. The opening song is a little out of place, but is good. I can never get tired of Asian-Kung-Fu Generation.
Everyone needs to watch this show. It is an absolute masterpiece. The story features an interesting time travel mechanic, but is mostly a mystery thriller. Every episode is entertaining and features a great cast of characters as the mystery is slowly put together. The animation gives a cinematic look that presents this series as a movie of sorts. The vocal performances are astounding. I give ERASED my Bananaowns’ stamp of approval. It quickly has become one of my favorite shows. I recommend that future viewers space out their watch of the series. There is much to be gained by a feeling of suspense, especially if a friend can be convinced to watch as well. Thanks for checking out this review and I’ll be back next week for another anime feature.